Belfast Telegraph

Kean braced for player departures

Blackburn boss Steve Kean is bracing himself for other clubs attempting to "pick off" the best players from his relegated team this summer.

It has been a miserable season for the Ewood Park outfit, but there have been some notable performers in the side, including 17-goal striker Ayegbeni Yakubu, dynamic forward Junior Hoilett and goalkeeper Paul Robinson who are among the players at Blackburn likely to be the subject of interest from top-flight clubs.

Kean said: "We know there is going to be interest, as there always is at times like this when a team gets relegated. You have other clubs that will try to pick off the best of your players. There is going to be that interest, but we are attempting to keep the majority of the squad together and build a squad that can bounce back."

Kean is under no illusion that quality players will not be content in the second tier for long and has stressed the importance of making a swift return to the big time.

"We know that we have to bounce back quick like clubs have done in the past," Kean said.

"If you can keep the majority of your squad, you can probably only keep that for one or two seasons and if you don't get back up as quickly as possible, then your players are attracted to playing back at the highest level. We want to make sure it is us back playing at the highest level."

It has been a tumultuous week for 19th-placed Blackburn, with relegation being followed by the leaking of a letter written by deputy chief executive Paul Hunt to the club's owners Venky's in December calling for Kean to be sacked.

Rovers subsequently confirmed on Thursday that Hunt had left his position, although according to Venky's - who are adamant the club is not for sale - his departure was down to cost-cutting rather than the letter.

All the while, Kean has been trying to prepare his side for their final fixture and he has revealed that Bradley Orr will miss the Chelsea game after the defender had surgery on his Achilles tendon.

Additionally, there are doubts over Robinson, who is rated by Kean as "touch and go" due to an ankle injury, and midfielder David Dunn after he limped off in the first half of the Wigan contest.

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